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BF Awards 2012 - Best Writer Independent: Luke Pearson

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Nobrow Press have pushed a number of exciting new talents into the spotlight since 2008 when the publisher first burst onto the British comics scene with their self-consciously tactile aesthetic and philosophy of producing books that “deserve to be printed”. From creators like Jon McNaught through to Jack Teagle, innovative anthologies to new artist showcases, hardcovers to fold-out leporellos, Nobrow have consistently pushed the boundaries of what comics can encompass in terms of talent, format and approach. As a result they have offered some of the most eclectic and beautifully designed sequential art it has been our privilege to be immersed in over the last few years.

Back in 2010, as part of their 17x23 series that gave emerging creators a chance to shine, Nobrow published Hildafolk, the first appearance of Luke Pearson’s enchanting feisty child heroine. Hilda would go on to further adventures in the European album-style books Hilda and the Midnight Giant in 2011 and 2012’s Hilda and The Bird Parade. Young Hilda lives in a Scandinavian setting with one foot in our world and the other set firmly in a mythological realm of elves, giants and the like, providing captivating stories with an appeal to adults and children alike. Pearson’s work is not just restricted to entrancing all-ages comics though. His 2011 Nobrow offering Everything We Miss, for example, revealed his abilities as a darker, more brooding storyteller and provided a fascinating counterpoint to the Hilda series.

But it’s 2012’s Hilda and the Bird Parade for which the Broken Frontier staff and readership have combined to vote Pearson “Best Writer – Independent” and it’s a much deserved honour. In Bird Parade Pearson proved himself a compelling plotter and scripter, providing another well-paced and charming story but one with resonance for adults and children alike focusing, as it does, on that abject fear of a child lost alone in an unknown city. With its mix of wonder – as Hilda and the talking bird she has befriended search for the traditional Bird Parade being held that evening – and tension, as our lost protagonist must also deal with her predicament and her strained relationship with her mother, it’s a book that is the perfect synthesis of the delightful and the disturbing. Personally, I would have given Luke Pearson the award just for Bird Parade’s beautiful and unforgettable ending alone.

Last November, when I reviewed Hilda and Bird Parade for Broken Frontier I remarked “If there’s any justice in the universe then I fully expect that one day public libraries will be as packed with Hilda albums in their section for kids as they were full of Asterix and Tintin ones in my childhood.” It’s a sentiment that I stand by, because Luke Pearson truly has that rarest of talents: that exquisite gift of being able to weave magical tales that connect with both adults and children simultaneously.

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